which he advanced through the rain and deep mud and the dense darkness till nearly midnight, when his troops were halted in the road, and rested as they might until dawn; then they pressed on until, emerging from a forest, they came in sight, about 5:30 A. M., of the Rebel
works before Williamsburg
; Fort Magruder in the center, at the junction of the Yorktown
and Hampton roads, with its cordon of 13 redoubts, extending clear across the Peninsula
, hence widening quite rapidly and permanently just above the town.
The ground had of course been chosen to give the greatest advantage to its defenders: the forest felled for a breadth of nearly half a mile, to obstruct the advance of our infantry; while a belt of open, level land, 600 or 700 yards wide, dotted all over with rifle-pits, intervened between this tangled abatis and the fort and redoubts.
lay in plain sight of Hooker
's position, two miles distant. After a careful survey of the ground, knowing that there were 30,000 of our troops within two miles, and the main body of our army within twelve, Hooker
decided to attack, in order to hold the Rebel
force engaged until the rest of our army could come up. Accordingly, sending the 1st Massachusetts into the felled timber on the left, and the 2d New Hampshire into that on the right, with directions to skirmish up to the further edge of the abatis, and ordering the 11th Massachusetts and 26th Pennsylvania to form on the right of the 2d New Hampshire and advance as skirmishers until they reached the Yorktown
road, he threw forward into the cleared field on the right of the road, barely 700 yards from Fort Magruder, Webber
's battery, which at once drew the lire of the Rebel
batteries, whereby 4 of his cannoniers were slot down and the rest driven off before we had fired a gun; but their places were soon supplied, and Bramllall
's battery brought into action on the right of Webber
's; when, between them, Fort Magruder was silenced before 9 A. M. Patterson
's brigade, composed of the 6th, 7th, and 8th New Jersey, was formed behind these batteries as their support, and was soon desperately engaged with the Rebel
infantry and sharp-shooters, who were found uncomfortably numerous; so that the 1st Massachusetts, 72d and 70th New York were sent to their aid, and, though fighting gallantly, fund themselves still overmatched.
Mean-while, our skirmishers on the right having reached the Yorktown
road, the 11th Massachusetts and 26th Pennsylvania were sent down that road to press the enemy and establish a connection with Heintzelman
's corps, supposed to be established upon it; Hooker
, at 11:20 A. M., sending a pressing message to Heintzelman
for assistance, and not findings him. By 1 P. M., Hooker
had sent in the 73d and 74th New York, his last regiments ; and, though his force was fighting gallantly, with varying success, lie was losing men fast, yet making no headway.
Three times he had repulsed Rebel charges upon his center, each made with fresh troops in increasing numbers and with more resolute purpose.
Soon, word came from the regiments thus engaged that their ammunition was giving out, while no supply-train had yet come up ; and it was found necessary to glean the cartridges